You might recall Kyemah as the girl whose photo went viral last year when she made her own prom dress, and slayed in it. (She later did one for Naturi Naughton for the BET Awards.) This year, she’s one of the headliners at BET Honors, and she again wore her own design:
Her Instagram has a shot of the back, too. Apparently it’s made of canvas, which she then hand-painted, per USA Today: “I decided I was going to actually paint my inspiration, which is black women. […] I believe in black history. I believe in women’s history, and so what better way to just express that than by wearing this?”
They then quote her more expansively:
“I remember asking myself, ‘Why don’t I see these women?’ And I remember comparing myself to the women that I did see and I was like, ‘Well, why aren’t I beautiful? Why isn’t my kinky hair beautiful? Why aren’t my full lips beautiful?’ I think from that point on, that whatever I did, it was going to be me and not for anyone else. And then I mean, the artist in me, the rebellious youth in me, also pushed it, but ultimately, I think it came from me questioning, ‘Why aren’t I beautiful? Why can’t I be seen as beautiful?’”
I think she’s something like 18 years old, and is apparently going to be attending Parsons, so it’ll be fun to see what else comes from her. Mostly, I enjoy that somebody so young is creating clothes that are thoughtful, that are ripe with personal meaning, but which also speak to the larger cultural conversation about celebrating all the many flavors of America. And she wears that with a confidence that a lot of seasoned Hollywood stars can’t even always muster with their Givenchy. If you’re ever worried about Kids Today, console yourself by remembering this one.